Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Scottish & Portuguese Cup finals May 2012

Visiting two Cup finals firstly in Glasgow and then in Lisbon.

Hearts 5 Hibernian 1 Scottish Cup final at Hampden Park 51,041

On this form Hibs could be waiting quite a while longer before they win another Scottish Cup.

It didn’t help that they conceded a penalty early in the second half and also went down to ten men.
Just before the break they had, briefly, come into the game with the score at 2-1.

But the last half an hour or so was a stroll for Hearts with Ian Black running midfield.

By then many of the Hibs fans had started to leave and by the end their sections were mostly empty.

I’d taken the morning train from London getting into Glasgow at 1pm, in good time to get to Mount Florida.
There was certainly plenty of atmosphere as you would expect for this Edinburgh derby - the first time they had met at this stage since 1896.

Though I couldn’t help reflecting that Hampden had held nearly three times the present capacity and I’d personally been in a crowd of 134,000 for an Scotland v England game.
But at least the surrounding roads were nowhere near as packed as they were back in those days.

So Hibs long wait for a Scottish Cup win (the last being in 1902) continues.

I took the train back to Glasgow Central and got the 5.30pm to Prestwick where I watched the Champions League final in the company of a Dublin based Celtic fan.

Most locals were supporting Bayern.

Academica 1 Sporting Lisbon 0. Portuguese Cup Final at the National stadium in Lisbon.

And taking of Celtic you could imagine yourself back in 1967 with all the green and white shirts in the same stadium where the ‘Lisbon Lions’ won the European Cup.

This time, unlike at Hampden, a team who had waited a very long time for a repeat Cup victory did manage to win.

Academica, with many fans wearing student gowns and boaters, had only one previous win and that was back in 1939.

The national stadium is three-sided in a wooded setting with large open seating and the only cover being for the VIPs and media.
So it didn’t help that we had a sharp shower just before the start - the day had been cool and showery.

Fortunately my flight from Prestwick to Faro was slightly early and the drive from the Algarve quick and trouble-free.
Although anyone going to this final should allow plenty of time as the traffic near the stadium was horrendous and the parking chaotic.
But in the end I was inside the ground an hour before the 5pm kick-off.

The fans were split about 70:30 with, as you would expect, many more supporting Sporting.

The winner came early, after three minutes, as Academica caught Sporting a bit cold.
A cross from the left was headed in by Marinho.

The team in black then defended well, frustrating most of the Sporting attacks.

Into the second period the game opened up with striker Edinho having two great chances - both spurned.
Later Ricky van Wolfswinkel had his opportunities, a one-on-one and a header.
Again he also failed to convert.

With time running down Academica resorted to typical time wasting tactics and so we had six minutes of added time.

Each time Sporting did get close the opposing goalie blocked the shots.
They did have an earlier decent claim for a penalty but it was not to be.

So it ended with the ‘Academics’ triumphant and as the morning paper said it was not a quiet night in Coimbra.

I walked up and the down the hills, making a brisk getaway and was back in Faro by 10pm.

more pictures from Hampden at http://www.photobox.co.uk/album/1279556410
and from Lisbon at http://www.photobox.co.uk/album/1279607852

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Denmark May 2012

Three Superliga games in Denmark including seeing a couple of the less prominent teams in Copenhagen.

Horsens 2 Midtjylland 1 12th May 4,869

4th and 3rd in the Superliga played at the Horsens Arena on a cool day with a bitter wind.

The stadium’s characteristic features are its unusual curved roofs at the ends and some impressive floodlight pylons.

The visitors brought 400 or so fans but they would go home disappointed despite Midtjylland passing it around quite well.
In the end their defence proved unable to stop some clinical home finishing.

Midtjyland did go ahead early on when Igboun sped down the right and his cross was put in by Hassan.
But the Horsens equaliser came from substitute Lodberg and on 36 minutes man of the match Faberberg drove home the winner after the visitors failed to clear their lines.

Back in the centre of town I enjoyed a couple of Paulaner beers followed by a good value Chinese buffet.

Lyngby 3 Aab Aalborg 2 13th May 1,344

I took the train from Horsens on Sunday to Copenhagen (less than 2.5 hours) and had enough time to check-in to my hotel before getting the S-Tog to Lyngby, a northern suburb of the capital.

The Lyngby stadium has some attractive hedges around the small curved terracing.
Even though it has a track it has a definite old style charm.

Obviously not the best supported team in Copenhagen Lyngby only had a few ultras and they were outnumbered by the away fans’ version.

It was a watchable game with left winger Bech prominent at times for home side.
Lyngby belied their low position (2nd bottom) by going ahead twice with a nice finish from Christianse and a penalty.
AaB equalised each time , the second after the home goalie should have cut out a cross.

But Mortensen headed the winner in the last few minutes to get the win.

Viewing was a lot more pleasant in the sunshine at this one after the chill of Horsens.

I took the S-Tog back to central station to watch the epic last twenty minutes of Manchester City v QPR.

A meal in an Australian restaurant (near to one of L Ron Hubbard’s offices) included some surf and chips, Little Creatures beer and a dessert.
It was well presented, quality food if somewhat minimalist.
(I decided against the more exotic options of kangaroo and crocodile)

Nordsjaelland 0 OB Odense 0 14th May 8,677

Played in Farum another, more distant, suburb of Copenhagen at the end of one of the S-Tog lines.

Farum seemed pleasant enough with its bicycle shops and tulips on the grass verges.
The smallish stadium, low level seating all around plus some terrace for the ultras at either end, is a fifteen minute walk from the station.

Though they don’t have the tradition or the fan base of the bigger clubs in the capital area FC N could win the Danish Superliga.

This draw won’t help but as it stands they are still only one point behind FC Copenhagen with two games remaining.

OB had much less possession and were second best in most areas but they defended well.
Each time the home side got close goalkeeper Stefan Wessels saved or one of his defenders got in a block.
American man of the match Michael Parkhurst had one of the best chances in the last few minutes but his shot clipped the bar.

Young Ghanaian Enock Adu generally had the better of the midfield duels with Djemba-Djemba and Traore as FC N built their attacks.

But finally, despite the best efforts of Mikkel Beckmann and co. they had to settle for a draw.

It got cooler later as I joined the numerous cyclists on the train back to the centre.

more pictures at http://www.photobox.co.uk/album/1271095969